Vaishnavi Shukla, HR head of Comviva, a completely owned subsidiary of Tech Mahindra, believes that employees must be provided platforms and support systems that empower them to navigate personal and professional challenges, to not only succeed but to flourish within the organisational fabric.
This is your second stint with Comviva, what changes or updates did you notice in the company since your first experience and how have they impacted your role?
I have spent about 10 years in this organisation now, and it has been a very fulfilling journey with my two stints put together. I would say the second stint has been very empowering, encouraging, experimental, and closure oriented, where I have grown into a professional who could lead by example, having leaders who have led by examples and done some transformation work. This has really helped us to innovate, do different things, and deliver efficient results. The second stint has helped me establish myself as a trusted and hands-on HR partner, somebody who's risen to the ranks, and work hierarchies, and understood different domains.
Bringing diverse perspectives to the decision-making of the organisation is the biggest experiment that we've been able to do in the last three or four years. It helped us in many ways including getting diverse perspectives right from the people for whom we are making those changes. At Comviva, working toward a mutually viable decision is now an established practice.
As an organisation, we are very open to rehiring ex-employees across domains and already have an alumni base where we do a lot of engagement. The rehire percentage has also increased by at least 40% in the last three to four years across domains.
How do changes in the company and business environment create the opportunity for HR leaders and professionals to grow?
When the business environment embraces changes within the company, it paves the way for transformative initiatives and innovative strides. Often, within large organisations, a sense of complacency can inadvertently take root even if performance is satisfactory. However, when leadership transitions occur or external factors shift, a newfound sense of urgency emerges—one that embraces change rather than resisting it. This phenomenon provides an opening for professionals, particularly in HR and other domains, to drive substantial transformations across organisational structures, thought paradigms, cultural dynamics, operational methodologies, and more.
Your organisation believes that inclusiveness is the only path to sustain success. What is your approach to making the sector more inclusive and equitable for all gender?
As an HR professional, I firmly believe in promoting diversity and inclusiveness within an organisation. It is essential for us to implement practices that empower individuals from underrepresented groups, such as women or other marginalised segments of society, to ensure they have a fair chance to succeed. By providing a supportive platform that fosters equity and inclusivity, we can establish a norm of meritocracy, rather than relying on strict enforcement.
Our company is committed to creating opportunities that nurture talent and foster growth, particularly for all genders. We strive to offer platforms and practices that assist individuals in navigating personal challenges and transformations, allowing them to shine and earn respect within the organisation. This approach contributes to a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.
Embracing diversity and inclusiveness not only benefits the organisation's performance but also reinforces a sense of belonging and fairness, making it a vital aspect of our HR practices. By continually working towards these goals, we can create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to succeed and contribute their best to the company's success.
What opportunities for professional growth and career advancement are available for employees within the company irrespective of their gender?
As a technology-driven company that highly values skill and expertise, we place a great emphasis on accelerating the careers of individuals who have demonstrated exceptional performance. Our commitment to investing in our people's growth and development is evident through our well-established learning and development programs. From day one, employees are immersed in learning initiatives, ensuring a strong foundation for their professional journey.
Our career acceleration approach has been highly successful, enabling many young leaders to take on significant roles and responsibilities early in their careers. Our track record boasts numerous success stories of leaders who have risen to prominence within just a few years of joining the company.
In line with our belief in recognising potential over age, we embrace young talent and offer them the opportunity to prove themselves and excel in their roles. There is no age barrier for skilled candidates for senior positions. Our organisational culture prioritises potential and merit, ensuring that talented individuals get the respect and opportunities they deserve.
To support our employees' growth, we have invested in tailored, stage-wise learning programs that cater to individual development needs. We embrace a blended learning approach, combining mentorship, classroom training, e-learning, and various other learning initiatives to provide a holistic and effective learning experience.
Overall, we are dedicated to nurturing talent, empowering young leaders, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth.
Demand for skilled professionals continues to grow due to advancements in technology. Do you have any collaboration with academic institutions to address the talent shortage in this field?
Yes, there is a significant gap between the demand and supply of skilled and trained professionals, especially in new-age technologies. Recognising this challenge, we have taken substantial measures to address it. Comviva has partnered with some institutions that can help us to upskill our employees. We also offer well-designed training programms to our employees if it is needed for a specific role to be performed.
We have collaborated with various firms, prominent colleges, and universities to enhance the capabilities of employees for role-based requirements. To facilitate this, we have established a dedicated "Finishing School" program. This initiative is designed to train and prepare our new hires, especially those from campuses, to be future-ready and equipped with the necessary skills.
To further strengthen our upskilling initiatives and help our employees shine in their professional journey, we have also signed MoU with universities in Bhubaneswar.
We have been actively involved in various activities aimed at upskilling students.
Being an HR leader how do you view the use of generative AI in human resources?
As a technology company, we understand the significance of staying ahead and continuously improving ourselves to benefit both the industry and our people.
We firmly believe that equipping ourselves with the latest advancements enables us to create the most effective use cases. With this mindset, we have embraced generative AI and implemented it in various aspects of our operations.
Initially, we integrated generative AI into areas such as employee engagement and hiring processes, witnessing its positive impact. Now, we are taking a significant stride by incorporating generative AI into our Learning and Development (L&D) initiatives.
By leveraging generative AI in L&D, we aim to revolutionise the learning experience for our employees. The technology's ability to generate content, simulations, and personalised training materials can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our training programs. This approach will ensure our employees receive the most relevant and tailored learning opportunities, empowering them to rapidly acquire new skills. Embracing generative AI in L&D aligns with our commitment to constantly adapt and evolve, making us better equipped to navigate the dynamic challenges of the industry.
With changes happening in all the domains and HR is not immune to this, what can HR professionals do to prepare themselves?
The pandemic presented us with numerous challenges and learning experiences. Based on these lessons, we took proactive steps to prepare ourselves for potential future disruptions. To facilitate this, we established internal forums called "Forums of Futures." In these forums, we candidly discuss areas where we may face difficulties in the future. Through these discussions, we realised our unpreparedness and subsequently began taking incremental measures to enhance our readiness. These measures encompass various aspects, such as upskilling, cultural transformation, and technology enablement.
Employee well-being and wellness have always been a focal point at our company. We prioritise creating a flexible and empowered work environment, which has consistently received positive feedback in our surveys. To ensure we address employee well-being, we have a robust feedback mechanism. We conduct employee engagement surveys, and culture diagnostics, and use culture platforms to gauge the overall sentiment of our workforce. The insights gained from these surveys help us identify areas where improvements are required, leading to targeted interventions and modifications for employee well-being.
In addition to surveys, we have partnered with top-notch service providers to deploy a Counseling Assistance Program. This program offers anonymous support to employees whenever they need it, particularly in areas such as stress management, mental health, fiscal health, and work-life balance. By continuously monitoring and addressing the challenges faced by the new generations, we strive to support our employees effectively.
Overall, these forums and feedback mechanisms allow us to stay proactive in responding to the evolving needs of our workforce. By actively addressing employee well-being and embracing a culture of adaptability, we aim to create a resilient and thriving work environment that can tackle future uncertainties.